The Etruscans of northern Italy preceded the Romans and lent many of their cultural elements to them. The tusk, this one carved from basalt with a golden cap, was another variation on the hand motive for warding off attacks from the Evil Eye.
The bulla, usually of metal and often containing a written charm, was very popular, especially for boys, in Etruscan and Roman times. Typically round or oval, bullae (plural) resemble a lion or satyr head or motif of snake hair, also served to defend against the evil eye. Bullae are hollow, often with filigree or granulation decorating the edges, and they have a removable loop (from which the pendant is hung). It is thought that the loop acted as a stopper for the bulla, which may have contained a liquid, presumably perfume. The word bulla now refers to a round lead seal attached to an official document from the Pope.
The frog symbolizes the Goddess of Love in many old Mediterranean cultures. In the case of Rome, she is Venus. This amulet was carved from amber. Only in Roman times did Europeans realize where amber came from and what it really was. This was despite some 2000 years of export from the Baltic region to the south.
The mano cornuto is an Italian amulet of ancient origin. Mano means 'hand' and corno means 'horn.' The charm represents a hand gesture in which the index and little fingers are extended while the middle and ring fingers are curled into the palm. The reference is to the horned head of an animal. Among some people this is the sign of a cuckholded man, but it is also widely used as a protective gesture against impotency.
The manofico, also called figa, is an Italian amulet of ancient origin. Examples have been found from the Roman era, and it was also used by the Etruscans. Mano means 'hand' and fico or figa means 'fig', with the idiomatic slang connotation of a woman's genitals. It represents a hand gesture in which the thumb is thrust between the curled index and middle fingers in obvious imitation of hetorsexual intercourse. The mano fico is a representation of the sex act (with the thumb as phallus).
The cornuto, corno, or cornicello is an Italian amulet of ancient origin. Corno means "horn" and cornicello means "little horn" -- these names refer to a long, gently twisted horn-shaped amulet worn in Italy to protect against the evil eye. Cornicelli are usually carved out of red coral or made of gold or silver. The cornucopia, the "Horn of Plenty" represents the horn Amalthea used to feed milk to Jupiter. He later blessed it so it would give her anything she wanted.
The Cimaruta (chee-mah-roo-tah) is a very ancient charm, used in Italy to protect from the evil eye, the mallocchio or jettatura. The Cimaruta was often worn upon the breasts of infants, as a protection. Before it became popular among the common people, it was used by witches as a sign of membership in the Witch-cult. As time passed, it began to be called the Witch charm. It was also used as a sign that someone was a devotee of Diana, the Queen of the Witches.
The Triskele (tris-keel) is one of Sicily's symbols that first appeared on the coins of ancient Syracuse. Today, I am told, you'll see it on everything from lamp-posts to shop signs. The Triskele is an ancient sun symbol, related to the four-branched version, the gammadion or swastika. Homer called the island Trinakie, meaning 'three cornered,'
and in the Middle Ages, Frederick of Aragon had himself proclaimed 'King of Trinacria'. It is three legs united at the thigh with a face in the middle. The face in the center of this item is known as 'Enna' or 'Persephone'.
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